November 7, 2020

Election 2020.

by Hal Gershowitz

Comments Below

President Donald J. Trump has become the 10th President of the United States to be denied a second term by the voters since Americans began choosing Presidents 232 years ago. President-elect Biden will become the 46th President of the United States, having prevailed over President Trump by an estimated 5.0 to 6.0 million+ votes when all votes are counted, and by an apparent electoral college margin of 306 to 215.

There is a lot to unpack in this election.

In this election, President-elect Biden received the largest vote of any President in the history of the United States. In this same election, President Trump received the second-largest vote of anyone who has ever run for President of the United States, topping his own 2016 vote total.

What does this tell us?

Probably not what I initially thought, and probably not what I presume many Americans may yet believe. As the election totals began to take shape, my first assumption was that approximately one-half of the country’s voters were solid Trump voters; that, maybe, America looked a lot more like Poland and Hungry than I had ever imagined. That is, nearly half of America was inclined toward authoritarianism and had voted for an authoritarian President. As I have listened to and read voter responses, I have come to a different conclusion. I don’t think President Trump’s solid base has grown much, if at all. However, I believe that many voters were (are) simply not enthusiastic about a Biden Presidency. They decided to stick with what they had, rather than support a candidate who they see as old, not exciting, and on whom enough of the mud stuck that was thrown by President Trump and an army of sycophants, social media bots, trolls, and other miscreants. Biden had been relentlessly characterized as a Trojan Horse for Marxists, a closet socialist, a pedophile, a corrupt family crime boss, and a mask-wearing wimp who was afraid of a tiny virus the Trump Administration was successfully quashing and on which the Trump-team was turning the corner. There was, I believe, a substantial vote against Biden that didn’t represent a besotted embrace of Trump or Trumpism.

One can rightly conclude from President Trump’s pronouncements from the White House during and immediately following the election that he is, indeed, an authoritarian in mind as well as in practice. He concluded that while the vote was still in process, he had already won the legal vote and that voting should be stopped (except where Trump, incorrectly, presumed he would win). He doubled down later in the week, declaring that he had won the legal vote, and, with no credible evidence, that the remaining voting was a mélange of skullduggery. His fulminations were breathtaking and unprecedented in American history. Worse, they were the pronouncements and the behavior of an authoritarian. But for the law, he would have canceled the election.

Republicans, in general, did well in this election, increasing their seats in the House of Representatives and, it appears, holding on to the Senate. Some are attributing that to President Trump’s coattails in less liberal areas of the country. Maybe. But I think there is a far more critical message being sent with these strong Republican showings. That is that the far-left wing of the Democratic Party has spooked much of the electorate. Most Americans can recognize the need to address and eliminate racism in law enforcement and criminal justice without embracing the idiocy of the defund the police movement. Like this writer, most Americans have enormous respect for men and women who have committed their careers to law enforcement. Most Americans rightly recoil that anyone can find anything redeeming in looting or arson. Politicians and activists were handed a powerful megaphone during the aftermath of the George Floyd killing. Some used that megaphone constructively. Many did not. I believe the Defund movement and whatever tolerance there was of looting and arson cost the Democrats dearly in many areas of the country.

McCain’s Revenge

As this essay wraps, it appears as though Joe Biden is on the cusp of winning Arizona. If he does prevail there, he will be the first Democrat to do so in twenty-four years. If the final result turns out that way, it will be attributable primarily to the unforced error Trump committed with his gratuitous and non-sensical attacks against Arizona’s favorite son, John McCain. Trump seemed jealous and resentful of the respect and admiration so many people accorded John McCain, for the late Senator’s service to our country, his heroism, and even the nation’s final goodbye to Arizona’s five-term Senator. President Trump’s petulant behavior toward Senator McCain was, like so much else attributable to this President, unpresidential. It appears the people of Arizona didn’t forget it.

All comments regarding these essays, whether they express agreement, disagreement, or an alternate view, are appreciated and welcome. Comments that do not pertain to the subject of the essay or which are ad hominem references to other commenters are not acceptable and will be deleted.

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20 responses to “Election 2020.”

  1. susan duman says:

    It tells us it will take a long time to recover from the vitriol.
    Celebrations happened all over the country.
    Personally, I experienced RELIEF.

  2. Perry Green says:

    While I concede that Biden has won I cannot see how he
    garnered such a huge vote count. While I realize many did not
    like Trump at all I fail to understand the overwhelming vote count. With little enthusiasm for a weak candidate and an
    underwhelming VP candidate they managed a staggering count.
    We shall see what kind of President the Media,Big Tech, and Big
    Money has bought.

  3. Peggy Jacobs says:

    There was a collective audible sigh of relief.

  4. Robert borns says:

    Reality check-trumps mouth or his policies didn’t beat him,the pandemic did. His economy that had America working was going to elect him again in spite of an unreasoning and vicious opposition. Americas real issues will not be solved by this election. Our successful history was a balance-between our nation being mildly smart and the rest of the world very dumb. Now the question is, will that balance remain or will we join the rest of the world?

  5. Debbie Kay says:

    Hal, as I have already said, it is now time for this country to heal and acknowledge that we are all entitled to different beliefs- but we are united as Americans. We must now stop fighting with each other but start fighting FOR each other. The beauty of a democracy is that we have the right to freedom of speech, religion and the press. The divisiveness now must be put aside and let’s put this difficult time behind us. Joe Biden is a kind, compassionate and empathetic person who is beloved in Congress and will reach across the aisle to accomplish things that need to be done. No country is better than ours and we need to restore it to its greatness.

  6. ELIEZAR BENJAMEIN aka Lenard Sherman says:


  7. Patricia Levy says:

    Perry Green, Biden garnered his advantage through NSA security software Hammer and Scorecard. It gave him a 3% advantage in WI, MI, PA, NV, GA, and AZ. When Trump was ahead and they realized that the 3% wasn’t enough, they shut down the voting sent everyone home and sent out for more illegal ballots. MSM is in on it. The problem that Trump has is that he is being censored at almost every level. That is why he resorted to Twitter, but now that doesn’t even work and that should alarm everyone. That’s what China does to its citizens. We are about to lose our country. Apathy is how it will be done. We need to wake up and realize the propaganda that we are being fed. Trump is bad Biden is good. Does anyone that thinks of Biden in a favorable way know about Hunter Biden’s laptop? Only if you watched Tucker Carlson, but then MSM called it Russian misinformation. If you are getting your news from MSM, know that you are not getting the full information on many topics. They have covered for Biden every step of the way. If Trump had made as many gaffes as Biden, the media would be all over it for weeks.
    Not one word about Biden using his son as his bagman to enrich his family. Do you really think his son would have gotten those board positions in the Ukraine if they weren’t getting something in return? The media should never have called the election because there are many lawsuits, witnesses and evidence yet to be heard. They only made it more difficult for when the truth comes out , if is allowed to be heard. That is why we need to wake up as many people as possible. Their goal is to use Biden as there puppet until they push him aside because of his dementia and then put in Harris who has a very questionable reputation. I hope that people will wake up and not go along to get along. This election will determine if we keep our freedoms.
    In defense of Trump, I know he doesn’t speak the way an elitist expects, but he has done many good things for our country and Israel. He has helped our veterans, he has rescued many Americans from foreign countries and he has rescued many children and adults from child trafficking. And what about the wall? Harris believes in open borders. I know a lot of people will be shocked and in denial about what I just wrote, but I am a Patriot and I know one when I see one, and Trump is definitely a Patriot. He will be one of the few Presidents that left office with less money than when he came in. If you dislike Trump it is probably because of the 91% negative press that he received. If you don’t believe me about the software, listen to General Thomas McInerey

  8. sheila says:

    Thank you, Hal – wonderful essay – and I agree with every point you made. Yesterday, when the Biden/Harris win became clear, and I watched videos of the jubilant dancing in the streets across the country, church bells ringing out across Paris, fireworks in the UK, I was overcome with emotion at the realization of just how close our country had come to the edge of the cliff, to losing everything we value – honesty, integrity, decency, respect for science, human dignity, our Constitution and the rule of law.

    That said, the fact remains that as you and all the pundits have noted, our country remains deeply divided and that Trump lost by only a hair. I believe Perry Green is correct – were it not for Trump’s tragic mishandling of the pandemic, he likely would have won a second term. That alone is mind-boggling. One article I read noted that approximately 20% of the country would be happy living in a military police state. I view Biden’s win with immense joy, but also as a warning.

    Joe Scarborough remarked that this election represents a repudiation of the Democrat brand – the Senate election losses and the Republican gain of seats in the House and could very well be a one-off election.

    Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, writes in The Atlantic that Trump was essentially a dry run. While he is a very talented TV reality star, he is a miserably untalented politician who stumbled into a perfect storm of events in which a realignment of politics was taking place throughout the U.S. and the world. He sensed and exploited the moment, and primarily via instinct, managed to navigate his way into an election win. But, Tufekci maintains, Trump’s brand of right-wing populism is very much alive and well in the US – and the country is now set up for it: Republicans have a super-conservative, 6-3 majority Supreme Court, they have kept the Senate and gains in the House gives them a potential redistricting advantage. The next time around, a much more talented right-wing populist will be waiting in the wings to take Trump’s place.

    I agree that Biden and Harris have their work cut out for them. The virus, legislation to protect the Constitution and rule of law, bulletproof requirements for future candidates re: release of tax returns and placement of business interests into a blind trust. Before Trump, this transparency had been the norm for decades.

    At the same time, it is imperative that Biden and Harris reach out to the Trumpist factions to find a way to bring them into a moderate fold. White nationalism and propagation of toxic conspiracy theories are rampant in our country, and it will be the Biden/Harris challenge not only to short circuit them but to address the root causes in a way that genuinely tamps down the rage.

    Of course, there are other immediate agenda items – foreign policy, immigration policy, climate, wildlife/open space protection and energy policy, reinstatement of regulations to protect consumers and our financial system from 2008 type catastrophes, protection from hostile cyber influences– there is so much to reverse from a toxic, hateful Trump regime.

    I am not suggesting that Biden strive for Kumbaya – or even that it is desirable. Healthy disagreement and debate is essential. But the healing and righting of the mothership must begin, and I believe that Biden can do this, not only for his administration but hopefully, in a way that will ensure that the hijacking of our democracy by hostile internal or foreign influences can never happen again.

  9. Jean says:

    Well said. Breathing again.

  10. Roberta Conner says:

    Election results – I have the same sinking spell I had when OJ was found “Not Guilty “.

  11. Betty Wolf says:

    Patricia Levy: Well said.

    Biden is owned by China., lock, stock and barrel. They will exploit him via blackmail for all the data they have on Hunter and him and the fortunes they reaped. He is a puppet. Harris is a political ornament.

    I grieve for the socialist/communist country our grandchildren will inherit with a Harris/AOC/Sanders/Biden administration and aftershocks. Most of us are on the ‘back nine’ now and should be deeply concerned with the trajectory of the country.

    No one approved of Trump’s abrasiveness, etc. No one. His many accomplishments exceed his deficiencies. But the treacherous road ahead is replete with quick sand.

    Hal, thank you for this forum. I read each comment trying to understand and absorb differing viewpoints.

    Our country is evolving. My hope is that successive generations are well educated with our rich history and freedom of speech/thought to remain ‘the United States’ of America – and not China.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Diane and your lovely family.

  12. Robert J. Fraiman says:

    I am 91 years old and I have never seen such an outpouring of support or just plain relief when all of the networks announced
    that Joe Biden had reached 270 electoral votes and thus became Joe Biden the President Elect. The only comparison that comes to mind was the elation when VE Day was announced. I think
    the Mayor of Paris said it all,” Welcome Back America” !!

  13. Merle ARENSON says:

    Trump was an embarrassment to the United States of America. He band of thugs, his flagrant disregard for the law, his authoritarian style, his obvious ignorance of our history, his demeaning of valiant Americans, his fathers well known anti-semititism—get it—-on and on and on—-So happy to breathe again.

  14. Susie Diamond says:

    Thank you Hal. Your columns over the years have been
    inspirations to us. I have been so worried over the election for so long. When Joe Biden came on stage last night I rose from the couch and applauded. Bob and I had tears in our eyes.
    Hopefully we will have a brighter future for our children and grand children.
    The America we know and love can once again gain respect in the free world.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Diane
    Susie and Bobby Diamond

  15. Michael Gong says:

    Dear Hal, I always enjoy reading your carefully crafted essays and often send them on to other family and friends. It’s quite evident that those who always disagree with you cannot attack the validity of your evidence but simply your conclusions from such. To me, it just seems that proves you’re right and they’re wrong. However, in this election, my not voting for Trump had little to do with the pandemic or the economy or the price of soy beans in Iowa. It had everything to do with the fact that I find the man to be utterly without common human decency, without grace, without empathy, without honor. I was deeply ashamed to have him be the representative of the nation that I have come to embrace as my home.

  16. Frank Berman says:

    I find your comment that fifty percent of Americans are inclined toward authoritarianism in that they voted for Trump. It is an uncommonly silly statement that I suspect, on reflection, you will wish you had not said it. The fact is that those Americans tend to seek more conservatism in their government than Biden offers. Indeed, that is precisely the opposite of authoritarianism. You are right that many were ‘spooked” by the ultra left of the democratic party, and rightly so.

    Trump had policies and accomplishments that I largely agreed with. Some were ably set forth by Ms. Levy. However, he has an undisciplined mouth which caused people to vote against him despite his accomplishments that far exceeded the expectations of four years ago–the peace treaties with Israel is the most recent example. It was a choice the voters were entitled to make, and did so. It was a form over substance vote in my view.

    As to McCain, I agree that the Trump mouth caused the lose of Arizona. His comment about McCain not being a hero was crazy and wrong. However, recall that then McCain voted against the GOP health care plan and demonstrated how small he was. That led to having no credible answer to Biden’s real claim that Trump had no plan, and also led to Cindy McCain and then Arizona beating Trump. Again, the mouth.

    One final thing that I would have hoped to find in your essay. It is now for all of us as Americans to accept the result (something the democrats never did with Trump), pull together, and wish Biden well in his tenure. Lets all hope he succeeds.

  17. Response to Frank Berman: The column concludes that I DO NOT assume that the vote indicates that 50% of Americans lean authoritarian. To the contrary, I write that assumption is probably wrong and that, instead, many Americans simply preferred to return Trump to office because they simply were not enthused about Biden. The column also states my view that the far-left caused Biden millions of votes.

  18. BR says:

    I am surprised that your many admirers are not concerned about Biden’s mental state. Just a week ago he told an interviewer that he was running against George (Bush?) Repeating himself twice. Two weeks ago he said he was running for the Senate. How long will it be before Harris is our president? That gives me a chill! She will undoubtedly have her cabinet of Sanders, Warren, AOC, Linda Sarsour. It will be interesting to read your blog next year at this time.

  19. Frank Berman says:

    I am pleased that you do not hold that view.

  20. Thomasin Savaiano says:

    I decided to wait the week before commenting, as I always find it interesting to see what comes at you for posting your well-thought-out ideas. Looking at this particular one through the lens of 6 days later proves more interesting than usual.

    As to why it was closer (although let us be clear, decisively won, by Biden, despite days of lawsuits and false examples)  than some would think possible, I think you bring  up valid points.  

    I would only add, as a person who leans Middle and has been looking for a modicum of balance to return after the chaos of 3 1/2 years, Biden is closer to middle with a proven track record across the aisle.  
    And a track record as far as how to handle the highly complex job at hand – which is now more important considering the alarming first-ever intelligence lock-out of the last 7 days.
    The job is made more complex by a pandemic he inherits that is surging again, which it should not be, had national leadership not chosen to message that simple precautions like masks were silly, and a reason to mock people.
    The most irresponsible example being the White House and those required to work there (ex. Secret Service personnel), are once again in a COVID surge within, putting at risk an entire branch of the peoples’ Govt.

    Many here have mentioned the positive character-related qualities of Biden.
    I moreso celebrate an understanding that words and facts really do matter when one is POTUS, returns the the White House – as do the many countries that celebrated that news, as well.

    Boring does not matter to me – what does matter is that a POTUS is able to understand that the job is not about them, it is about us – and have the personal capacity to behave as such.
    Should there be doubt, one does not need a news channel, but just to pick up their phone and see the last years of video, audio,  and self-posted tweets to indicate the current officeholder does not have that ability.

    As to your deduction that he is an Authoritarian  – something I truly believe comes from the notion the job is not about the Country, that it is about him – anyone who may have doubted that or chastised you for writing it a week ago need only look at the last 6 days. 

    Things our children are now being taught about how one should behave within the American Process:

    Duty to country doesn’t matter as much one’s personal feelings about loss, and – for the first time ever – the country must stop in its tracks for days to accommodate that.

    It is ok to tie up the country and process by claiming lies are truths, and spending money and time on a dizzying amount of selective-state lawsuits that consistently get thrown out for lack of merit or evidence, to the point that even the lawyers can no longer morally stomach it and quit.

    Duty to country and the support of its unified future is not as important as continuing to spend time and money using the reach of the office and untruths to keep stirring up a campaign base cultivated using negativity – which ensures continued separatism and destroys unity.

    A cornerstone – the peaceful transfer of power and information sharing – doesn’t matter.
    Even though it has been honorably accorded to every incoming President in modern history, no matter how close the count – including the one currently in the White House – until now.

    Sadly these, and other examples that have forced us to spend 6 days watching the American Process being stripped away, are but the newest behaviors that support your theory.
    At this point I’d imagine most Americans might agree.

    I continue to hope our sacred processes can stand up to it. Perhaps that is naive, but it is my patriotic hope.

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